Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Better Rankings with Google

Walk-a-thonOne of the most rewarding things you can do is to have a mission statement for yourself, your "company" or new business. Each year, the nearby school has a "walk-a-thon" to raise money. And each year they do pretty good.

Because they have a purpose, a mission, they know just what to do and when to do it and are meticulously recording feedback on what works and what doesn't. During the year new things are presented to the "Parents/Teachers Organization" - but all are filtered through the "mission statement". If they pass, they are tried on a small scale.

This reminded me of how careful we should be about our own businesses. I get e-mails every day requesting a quick look at a website or a request to further develop a campaign, and it's almost comical some of the things I see. Surely you're not doing this!

Pages seem to be thrown together, very little content, and three or four large blocks of contextual ads gracing the screen. Remember that on the Internet it's solutions people are looking for.

But not only that, people must know, like and trust you before they will do any sort of business with you. This means that if you have a few lines of content and a bunch of ads you are not generating any sort of rapport.

People go to a search engine looking for an answer, a solution to a problem. Then they end up on your site - which should be an answer to their quest - not a sales page!

So how do you rank better with Google (or other search engines, for that matter)?

Google spells it out for you. Tricks might get you listed, but nearly all of them will get you banned sooner or later. Where many of the older search engines rely heavily on how often a word appears on a web page, Google uses PageRank(tm) to examine the entire link structure of the web, and determine which pages are most important.

Then, Google performs hypertext-matching analysis to determine which pages are relevant to the specific search. And finally, by combining the overall importance and query-specific relevance, Google is able to put the most relevant and reliable results first.

Okay, so what is "hypertext-matching analysis"?

Google's search engine will analyze your page content. BUT, instead of simply scanning for page-based text, which people can manipulate (meta tags, alt tags, etc), Google analyzes the full context of a page and factors in fonts, subdivisions and the precise location of each word. Google also analyzes the content of neighboring web pages to ensure the results returned are the most relevant to a user's query.

What?! All that in a fraction of a second? Well, it learns as it goes along, so if it's the same query, the same pages generally get served up.

Homework for today - work on your linking. I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of Axandra software. This is what I use. Don't abuse it. Don't do any weird things. Just ask for the link.

Till next time,
Dave in Naples